Moving preschoolers from one classroom to another can be tricky – transitions are often times when children display more challenging behaviors. Transition activities for preschoolers can help avoid the chaos, save time, and make switching classrooms easy. While moving from what classroom to another is important, preschool transitions between activities also provides structure and a fun way to focus on the next task or subject.

What Are Preschool Transitions?

A number of daily activities take place in each preschool classroom, and sometimes students must move in a group to another room or outside for their next activity. Transitions also include the times when teachers ask students to switch activities or form groups within the classroom. The time spent switching between two activities can be chaotic and unproductive, but establishing a clear and solid routine will help your students understand how to execute transitions quickly and efficiently with minimal direction from adults.

Why Efficient Classroom Transitions are Important

Smooth classroom transitions allow increased time for learning. Positive behavior and effective learning go hand in hand; and children tend to act more appropriately when transitions are well-planned and rehearsed. Assuming that preschoolers should know how to transition in an orderly manner can leave you and the children feeling frustrated and worn out; and take away valuable time for learning and play.  Making transitions fast, fun activities in themselves helps you create a calm, constructive classroom environment and cuts down on conflict and stress for both staff and students.

How to Create Smooth Classroom Transitions

One of the most vital things to remember about transitions is that they need to be followed consistently and in accordance with how the children have been taught to end one activity and move on to a different classroom. Developing and sticking to a transition process for each activity allows your preschoolers to know exactly what to do and what to expect when an activity ends; and helps them move on with little or no disruption.

Preschool Transition Activities for toddlers

Some ideas that will help you grab the children’s attention and make for smooth transitions include:

  • Providing verbal cues that an activity will end soon. For example, “It’s almost time to clean up,” or “five minutes until outdoor time”
  • Ringing a bell or playing another instrument
  • Holding up a picture of the next activity
  • Singing specific preschool transition songs or reciting rhymes when it’s time for the children to line up
  • Encouraging children to help others clean up and get in line
  • Assigning partners who clean, line up and walk to the next classroom together
  • Letting the children know which room you’re going to next
  • Giving the children specific areas in which to sit down or assemble in the next classroom (assigned seats with their names on them, cushions, etc.)
  • Providing positive reinforcement and feedback to children who follow the procedures for transitions

Planning Your Schedule for easy transitions

The way you set up your daily schedule can help make transitions go more smoothly as well. A good balance of active and quiet play is a must. A gradual increase or decrease in the level of activity is also essential; for example, following outdoor play with a snack allows the children to expend energy and then calm and nourish themselves when they sit down to eat. Planning activities that allow adequate time for children to complete can keep them from becoming frustrated and resisting transitions. If some children finish activities more quickly, make sure there’s something else for them to do until the transition.

Providing clear instructions, a consistent routine, and presenting transitions in a manner that’s fun and engaging creates a more pleasant and less hectic preschool environment that’s conducive to learning, play and joy.

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